What’s the Story on Multitasking?

One of the reasons storytelling has caught on as a valuable skill for business leaders is that the deluge of information in our world continues to grow exponentially–and stories stand out in the clutter. Because humans are “wired” for story, our ears and brains perk up when we hear the beginning of a tale.

But what about multitasking? Does the ability to multitask help people handle more information–or just clutter their minds with more data they can’t access later? Researchers haven’t conclusively answered that question, but it appears that attempting to do more than one task at a time reduces a person’s effectiveness and also increases stress. And stress impairs short-term memory.

So when you’re reviewing e-mails while listening to your co-worker’s report, a lot of the information doesn’t stick. According to a study at the University of Utah, less than 3% of the population can juggle multiple streams of information successfully. For most of us, it seems, focusing on one thing at a time is a better choice.

Comments are closed.